What to ask the Interviewer

Only Thursday my wife (Aziza Mowzer) had an interview with some big financial services, audit company. She asked me what to ask the Interviewer and how should she prepare with regards to the questions they’d ask her:

My reply:

  • How big is the team I’d be working with?
  • If I meet or exceed the company’s expectations, will there be additional opportunities to expand my responsibilities?
  • What are the main challenges associated with the team?
  • How would you characterize successful employees in this department? What are their common qualities?
  • How do you feel about risk, creativity and individuality?
  • How does management view the role and importance of this department and this position?
  • I see on Linkedin you have worked in New York for 3 years, what would be your most important lesson. How does New York compare to Other Countries in terms of culture and environment?

Stop asking questions if you sense it is bothering the interviewer.

“Tell me about yourself.”

This is usually the opening question in an interview and it’s the perfect moment for you to toot your own horn — not to tell your life history. Your answers should be a quick rundown of your qualifications and experience. Talk about your education, work history, recent career experience and future goals.

Suggested answer: “I graduated from University X and since then, I have been working in public relations with an agency where I have generated millions of PR hits for my clients. While I’ve enjoyed working on the agency side, I’m looking to expand my horizons and start doing PR for corporate companies such as this one.”

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Let the employer know that you’re stable and you want to be with this company for the long haul. Keep your aspirations to take over the firm with which you are interviewing, own your own company, retire at 40 or be married with five children to yourself.

Suggested answer: “I want to secure a civil engineering position with a national firm that concentrates on retail development. Ideally, I would like to work for a young company, such as this one, so I can get in on the ground floor and take advantage of all the opportunities a growing firm has to offer.”

“What are your weaknesses?”

The key to answering this age-old question is not to respond literally. Your future employer most likely won’t care if your weak spot is that you can’t cook, nor do they want to hear the generic responses, like you’re “too detail oriented” or “work too hard.”

Respond to this query by identifying areas in your work where you can improve and figure out how they can be assets to a future employer. If you didn’t have the opportunity to develop certain skills at your previous job, explain how eager you are to gain that skill in a new position.

Suggested answer: “In my last position, I wasn’t able to develop my public-speaking skills. I’d really like to be able to work in a place that will help me get better at giving presentations and talking in front of others.”

“How would others describe you?”

You should always be asking for feedback from your colleagues and supervisors in order to gauge your performance; this way, you can honestly answer the question based on their comments. Keep track of the feedback to be able to give to an employer, if asked. Doing so will also help you identify strengths and weaknesses.

Suggested answer: “My former colleagues have said that I’m easy to do business with and that I always hit the ground running with new projects. I have more specific feedback with me, if you’d like to take a look at it.”

“What can you offer me that another person can’t?”

This is when you talk about your record of getting things done. Go into specifics from your résumé and portfolio; show an employer your value and how you’d be an asset.

Suggested answer: “I’m the best person for the job. I know there are other candidates who could fill this position, but my passion for excellence sets me apart from the pack. I am committed to always producing the best results. For example…”

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